Marisol Jimenez has taken on case management, health center operations, and emergency preparedness during her 25 years at Erie Family Health Center. However, that's far from where she started making her mark on the world. Until her move to the United States at 15 years old, Marisol trained at a military school in her birthplace of Puerto Rico. In those eight years at military school, Marisol learned how to defend herself as well as others. You can learn more about Marisol's story in her Erie Lights profile.
What is your history with Erie?
Years ago, all the case management programs at the agency I was working for were transferred to Erie, and that's where I came in. Later, I found out the auditors wanted me to go to Erie. They said, 'We're giving Erie the programs, but this is the person who knows how to run those programs". Erie called me for an interview the first week of July, and once I started, I took the programs and developed them until I transferred to HCO. Moving to HCO was interesting because it was the year of many layoffs and hit us hard. They told me I needed to let go of more people, but I couldn't. So, I told my former boss that I would take myself out of the budget, meaning I would lose my job. After that, I ended up in Health Center Operations, and the day I transferred over, they called and asked me back.
Now, I'm the Regional Director of Operations and handle emergency preparedness. I will have been at Erie for 26 years in September. I am sent to the site to build it again, structure it, and provide training, guidance, and support until the new director comes aboard. It was in 2011 when Erie Division opened, where I helped to build the site. I also implemented the WIC program at Erie and won the Original Case Management Award for Erie.
What is your relationship with the military?
I come from a family of vets, and my husband was an operation specialist in the army. I studied in military school in Puerto Rico until the 11th grade. I skipped grades three times and graduated at 15. I didn't go overseas, but I was trained in two major bases in PR, (Fort) Ramey and Buchanan. I wanted to be a soldier that went to war, but they didn't allow women to do that back then. They trained us, but we couldn't go off to war. Then I came to the States, and that all changed.
How would you say your military experience influenced your approach to your work and role at Erie?
I think it influenced my personality, character, and demeanor. I'm well trained to defend myself and protect others that need it. I am a trained violent crisis incident instructor so that I can handle incidents such as active shootings or any massive incidents. I started military school when I was seven years old, which is why I'm very structured and disciplined. For me, Erie is like a mission in the sense that my mission is to serve the patients, my peers, and the community.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love spending time with my kids and my grandkids. I am very protective of my family. I always tell them; I'll take a bullet for you anytime. So, spending time with my family and close friends is a blessing. I always believe, enjoy today because you don't know where you're going to be five minutes from now. I also enjoy hobbies to relieve stress, like kickboxing and crossbow.
What is your motivation in life?
What motivates me is what I can do for others. That's what matters to me. I want people to be strong and know how to defend themselves.
What legacy would you like to leave behind at Erie?
I love to train people; I like to give them knowledge because if, for example, one day I leave, it would be an honor if someone already at Erie took my place instead of hiring someone from the outside.
What is something no one knows about you?
My daughter, Mariella, and daughter-in-law, Carla, also work at Erie.
What is the best lesson you have learned so far?
If a leader is not humble in spirit, they can never grow. For you to continue to grow, you have to be humble. When you serve, you get blessings and can bless someone else. So that's why I train staff. Let me give you what I have. So, then I can get more blessings and learn something new. I always say I learn even from the homeless on the street because they know how to survive winters on the street. They know how to gather food and stay alive. I wouldn't know how to manage if you put me out in the winter, below zero, with a little cup and a little tent. They can teach me that. So, I always say that you can learn something from everyone every single day. And when blessings come my way, I can give my blessings to others.